Infiniti is to Nissan as Lexus is to Toyota and Acura is to Honda. All three Japanese manufacturers realized many years ago that if they were to achieve their ambition of moving upmarket into the premium sector. It would have to be with a separate brand, sold from separate, smarter showrooms. The Infiniti brand was introduced into the US market in 1989, and the following year,it launched the 045 saloon, a powerful, elegant car with active suspension and a truly luxurious cabin. Later, it launched the 0X4 a premium luxury SUV, and in 2003, the G35, a sports coupe based on the Nissan Skyline, which became an instant hit thanks to its outstanding performance and fine handling.
Then in 2003, came the FX, one of the first examples of the’cross -over’ vehicle, in which the lower part of the vehicle is a chunky SUV while the upper part is sleeker and smarter — a body more likely to be found on a sports car. The car thus providesboth the high performance of a GV and the functionality of an SUV. At launch, two versions were offered: the FX35, fitted witha 280 bhp 3.5 -liter V6, and the FX45, which has a 320 bhp V8under its bonnet. In keeping with the Infiniti image, both modelswere very highly specified. After a facelift in 2006, a totallyredesigned model was introduced at the Geneva Motor Showin 2008 to coincide with the Infiniti brand’s launch in Europe.Although their proportions are very similar to those of the earlier FX the new FX35 and FX50 have what some commentators have described as ‘challenging’ styling. Others have dismissed the cars as just plain ugly.
However, there’s no doubting the dynamic abilities of the FX50 in particular. Its 5,026 cc V8 produces 390 bhp at 6,500 rpm and 500 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. That’s enough to 0-62 mph acceleration in 5.8 seconds and a top speed , 155 mph / 249 km/h. Power is transmitted mainly to, wheels via a seven -speed automatic transmission operated by paddles on the steering wheel, though when extra tr., required, the electronically controlled all -wheel –drive comes into play. The smaller engined FX35, incident be specified either as a two -wheel -drive or an all –wheel dirve vehicle Suspension is by double wishbones and electronically controlled dampers at the front, and multi -link with the same electronically adjustable dampers at the rear. Four piston discs at the front and two piston discs at the rear ensure adequate stopping power.
The basic dynamic set-up of the FX50 is backed up by a whole army of electronic aids, including Lane Departure Prevention, which uses the brakes to ensure the vehicle does not drift out of its lane; Intelligent Cruise Control with Distance Control Assist, which uses a forward radar to ensure a constant distance is kept from the car in front; and Intelligent Brake Assist which can bring the FX50 to a complete stop and then resume the selected speed. It raises the theoretical possibility of the car being driven tor miles on a highway without the driver ever having to touch the brake, accelerator or even the steering wheel. The awesome specification continues in the cabin, which is equipped with a hard -drive navigation system with more than 9GB of digital music storage, tire-pressure monitoring, diamond quilted leather front seats that can be heated and cooled, and even an ionizing air-purification system.
The FX50 is, in many ways, a quite remarkable vehicle, offering performance and luxury in equal measures. And there’s no doubt place to view the FX50 is from inside the cabin, as only from there is the unfortunate exterior styling invisible.
INFINITI FX50 2008
ENGINE: 5026 cc V8
MAXIMUM POWER: 390 bhp at 6500 rpm
MAXIMUM TORQUE: 500 Nm at 4400 rpm
MAXIMUM SPEED: 155 mph / 249 km/h
0-60 MPH ACCELERATION: 5.8 seconds
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
LENGTH: 189 in / 4803 mm
WIDTH: 7753/4in / 1925mm
HEIGHT: 65in / 1651 mm
WHEELBASE: 1121/4 in / 2850 mm
MANUFACTURE DATE: 2008-present
BRAKES: disc (f and r)
SUSPENSION: independent strut (f), independent multi-link (r)
WHEELS: alloy, 20 in
TIRES: 265/50 R-20 (f and r)